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Maintenance of the rotating machines in the Power Station is important for continued

and reliable power generation. Availability of Fans, Pumps, Compressors, Turbo Generators etc
need to be ensured to avoid unplanned outages and achieving higher Plant load Factors.
Maintenance practices are broadly divided in following categories:
1. Breakdown Maintenance
2. Preventive Maintenance
3. Predictive Maintenance.
Breakdown Maintenance: Whenever any auxiliary or system has failed, it needs to be restored
and taken in to services as quickly as possible. Well planned maintenance practices ensures
• Availability of spares and consumables required for the repairs of the failed auxiliary
• Availability of Trained and Skilled manpower to carry out the repairs
• Availability of necessary tools and machines for carrying out repairs quickly.
• Availability of appropriate procedures and work instructions for repairs and ensuring the
quality of the repair works.
A break down causes interruption in Power Generation and hence quick actions, decisions
and repair skills are the most important prerequisites in this kind of maintenance practice.
However, through this practice, a breakdown can not be avoided, only the damages and losses
can be controlled and minimised.
In today’s scenario, most of the progressive and modern organisations are trying and
succeeding in total avoidance of the breakdown.
Preventive Maintenance: Preventive maintenance of the machines is carried out as per the
manufacturer’s recommendations and experience of the people involved in the operation and
maintenance of the machines. Manufacturers always specify certain regular preventive actions
to be taken after predetermined working hours of machines. These recommendations are based
on the historical data of the machine available with the manufacturers and also design
considerations. By complying with the preventive maintenance requirements can definitely
reduce premature failures but can not altogether prevent such failures.
Predictive Maintenance: Of late, this branch of maintenance is becoming increasingly popular
owing to the fat that predictive maintenance techniques, when adopted, can reduce the failure
of machines altogether. Proper system of predictive maintenance can achieve a “Zero Forced
outage” status for the Power Station. The system involves
1. Establishing base line data for all the critical machines
2. Monitoring these machines for various parameters.
3. Studying the deviations in the parameters from base line data through trending.
4. Identification of the machines running under stress and planned interventions for
correction, “before” the machine has failed.
Predictive Maintenance Techniques thus help in total avoidance of failure of the critical
The most useful Predictive Maintenance Techniques are:
1. Vibration Analysis
2. Ultra sound monitoring
3. Thermography
4. Wear Debris analysis and lubricant condition monitoring.
5. Motor current analysis.
For proper application of these techniques, various monitoring instruments are required.
These are
1. Vibration Analyser with memory.
2. Thermography Camera
3. Ultrasound monitoring instrument
4. Centrifuges for separation of micronic size particles from the lubricating oil/ grease
sample collected at the outlet of the bearing and analysers for identifying the metallurgy
of the debri thus separated.
5. Motor Current Analyser.
A Predictive Maintenance system thus has following essential requirements:
1. Identification of the machines, based on criticality, to be covered under Predictive
Maintenance Program.
2. Procurement of relevant instrumentation
3. Identification of technique to be applied for individual machines covered under the
4. Trained manpower for operating the instruments for collecting data.
5. Establishment of base line data for each machine.
6. Establishing the time intervals for collection of data for each machine
7. Storage of the collected data in the database.
8. Analysis of the data and its comparison with base line data for identifying the Condition
of the machine.
9. Planned intervention and correction for the machines running under precarious condition.
Condition Monitoring:
This activity is a part of integrated maintenance plan for the Power Station and provides
significant improvements. It essentially consists of Measuring fault indicating parameters and
looking for the increase or decrease of values and other characteristic changes occurring in the
machine. It is necessary to set satisfactory limits for the parameters being measured. Machine
condition is monitored by carrying out periodic measurement of the parameters. A change in
value of the parameter is more indicative of deterioration in the condition of the machine rather
than absolute value. A fault may change one or more parameters or a parameter may change
as a result of the occurrence of one or more faults.
Types of measurements: For effective condition monitoring, measured parameters can be
simple single values, overall or averaged values, spectral measurements etc. Trending values
are effective. Repeatability of measurement is more important than absolute accuracy of
measurement. While interpreting the trends and changes in values, it is necessary to note the
maintenance activities carried out.
Condition Monitoring techniques are selected considering following aspects.
1. Does the technique gives information about the mode of failure already identified.
2. Is the technique practical to apply.
3. Is it the cost-effective technique.
4. Is it the simplest method available.
Following are the most widely used techniques:
1. Thermal Techniques: Infra-red cameras are most widely used to capture thermal images
of the equipment. This technique can be effectively used for knowing insulation breakdown and
leaks in the pipe work, and High resistance joints, overheated components, hot motors blocked
cooling paths in electrical machines.
2. Wear Debris Monitoring Technique: It monitors lubricant condition and monitors presence
of wear particles in oil.
3. Vibration Monitoring: Used for Condition Monitoring of rotating and reciprocating machines.
There are wide ranges of techniques and instruments available. Only the careful selection and
application of technique is essential for success.
4. Spectral Monitoring: this technique allows detection of many faults such as Unbalance,
Misalignment, Looseness and gear bearing damage.
5. Ultrasonic Measurement is another technique which proves beneficial for monitoring of
leaks in pressurised and vaccume systems, failed steam traps, Mechanical contact systems
including under or over lubrication, Electrical corona discharge, leaking or failed valves etc.
In this write up a brief introduction is given on Predictive Maintenance and Condition
Monitoring techniques. Detailed information and understanding of the techniques is available
with many institutes working in this field since long.